new-york

Cindy Sherman

Metro Pictures

Cindy Sherman’s most recent show—a series of photographic glosses on Western art-historical subjects from the 15th through the 19th centuries—was interesting primarily as a case study in the mass reception of contemporary art. Transformed by the crowds that poured into the gallery, the vast space resembled the Impressionist wing of the Met on a busy Sunday. For three successive weeks Sherman’s show was written up in the New York Times, according it the kind of cultural legitimation usually reserved for traditional Masterpieces. The hype surrounding this show made it difficult to discern exactly what sort of content Sherman proffered.

Sherman came to prominence as one of the “pictures” artists of the late ’70s. Read through a screen of sometimes recondite post-Structuralist and Frankfurt-School theory, her work was championed as a broad-based critique of representation. Focusing on the

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